I went to this show, basically because I felt like it. I'd never seen Down before, and last.fm is always telling me that I like the Melvins so I figured that this would be a rad show to check out. When the show ended, it occurred to me that this was one of the raddest shows that I have ever taken in.
The opening band, Weedeater, was 90% awesome. I say 90% because I have to admit that I was slightly unsure after the first song and a half. What I like immediately about this band was that they had the drummer set up at the front of the stage, as opposed to being tucked in the rear. So, basically all three dudes in the band were standing right next to each other. The other thing that I really liked about the band was the fact that they toasted before every song which led to added consumption of beer.
The Melvins were really, really good. They sounded surprisingly tight. You would think that a band as old as them and with a lead singer who has a huge fro and a bassist who wears a wig that they would be sloppy, but that was totally not the case. They came on stage to the theme music from the "A-Team". Their set was so awesome that it seemed like all the songs they played kind of blended into one monster jam. Then again, it is also entirely possible that I was so blown away that I completely lost my grasp on timekeeping.
For those of you who don't know, Down is fronted by Phil Anselmo, who used to be the lead singer of Pantera. Down and Pantera are two entirely different bands, as Down utilizes a sound that is slightly less aggressive than Pantera. I can't speak about Pantera performing live, but Down was fucking incredible. Phil Anselmo possesses the most dominant stage presence that I have ever seen. The other week when I was at Sonar and I saw the No Deachunter tour, I thought that Dan Deacon owned the crowd. But last night, Phil really had the crowd by the balls. He wanted hands in the air, and he got hands in the air. He wanted movement, he got movement. Throngs of people kept throwing themselves into the crowd surfing festivities, and it was wild to watch because you only ever saw them on top of the crowd once. You could see them get hoisted up, and then after that it was like they were just thrown at the stage. Bodies floated above the crowd, and as they reached their destination Phil would high-five the surfer and then the body disappeared from the crowd. It was awesome. Phil commanded every square inch of the joint, and it was a marvel to witness. And, they actually did an encore. On the drive home, I started thinking about how the past few shows I've been to there hasn't been an encore and if there has been it was a shitty one. Down's encore was terrific, and was almost like a second set. They covered Van Halen's "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love", and Phil swore it was the first time that they ever tried it. As the encore was winding down, Phil asked the crowd what they wanted to hear. I've seen this happen before, but normally when it happens the crowd becomes full of douchey know-it-alls who then proceed to shout the names of obscure B-sides of EPs that were never even released in America. When Phil asked the question, the answer was unanimous. Every motherfucker in that place shouted "Bury Me in Smoke", and when they did Phil said, "Oh, we know how to play that one."Awesome. Awesome. Awesome.